HOW SIGNING A MAJOR RECORD DEAL CAN DESTROY YOUR CAREER

Original article on Digital Music News.

The following is an excerpt from Terra Naomi on her experiences as an independent and major label signed artist…..

terra naomi

terra naomi

In June of 2006 I became the first musician to build a worldwide following on YouTube. I posted videos every couple of days and called it my “Virtual Summer Tour.” I played my own original songs and some covers. I talked into the camera and answered questions submitted by my nascent online audience. At first a few hundred people watched my videos, then it grew to about 1,000, mostly fans from Myspace and the email list I’d built playing little clubs and venues around the US.

And then one day the video for my song “Say It’s Possible” landed on the front page of YouTube. Emails flooded in from all corners of the globe. I spent 12+ hours a day responding to messages from people whose connection with the song inspired them to connect with the person who created it.

I saw an opportunity and quickly recorded an acoustic EP called “Virtually.” I enlisted the help of a friend and together we shipped 5,000 CDs in one month. No manager, no label, no marketing, no touring. It was revolutionary.

The music industry took notice of the attention I was getting and quickly jumped in with various offers, each one better than the last. I was deeply in debt and barely getting by as an independent artist, and I was also very much attached to the old paradigm – I valued the support of a major label as much as I needed the acceptance and approval of the industry that had ignored me for what felt like so long.

In January 2007 I signed with Universal Music Publishing and Universal Island Records, out of the London offices. I’d become friendly with the guys at YouTube, and they asked if I could hold out on signing for a bit; told me they were developing ways to monetize the platform, and predicted I would eventually make even more money with YouTube while retaining the creative control I’d be forced to give up at a major label.

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